The government of Iran has shut down internet and phone lines as protests enter their fourth day, and two protesters have been killed as forces crack down on civil unrest.
On Sunday, the Iranian government announced that protesters would "pay the price" for their unrest, and that those who defy government officials "must be responsible for their behavior." They also appeared to crack down on an internet messaging app that has been fueling protests, slowing down internet access in cities where anti-government sentiment is high.
Two protesters lost their lives during a protest in Dorud, but the local government says it was the fault of "foreign agents" and not the brutal Revolutionary Guard.
"On Saturday evening, there was an illegal protest in Dorud and a number of people took to the streets responding to calls from hostile groups, leading to clashes,” government officials told Sky News. “Unfortunately in these clashes two citizens from Dorud were killed."
The Revolutionary Guard claimed that citizens had entered the crowd of protesters with their own weapons and began shooting randomly, leading to two deaths, but the Guard followed up with a statement claiming that other protests would be met with an "iron fist."
So far, Iranian officials admit to arresting at least 130 protesters.
Sunday night in Iran, access to popular social messaging sites like Instagram and Telegram, were cut off; the government claimed they blocked the applications because they were "inciting violence" among Iranian youth. Although Telegram is a privately owned company, it claims it was forced to comply with government orders once they discovered actual calls to violence on their network.
A Telegram channel (amadnews) started to instruct their subscribers to use Molotov cocktails against police and got suspended due to our "no calls for violence" rule. Be careful – there are lines one shouldn't cross. Similar case from October – https://t.co/OWQFBLywjr— Pavel Durov (@durov) December 30, 2017
Several telecom agencies in Iran also say the government has cut off internet access completely in select cities. Twitter users inside Iran seem to indicate that they still have access to some internet, and global news sites, but that connections are slow and unreliable.
#IranProtests: Iranian users now reporting difficulties to connect to internet; slower connection on landlines & no internet connection on cellular networks for some. Also intensified jamming of satellite TVs where ppl follow the news from channels like @bbcpersian.— Hadi Nili (@HadiNili) December 30, 2017
But even so, the Iranian government has not been able to quell the flow of information from within the protests themselves — particularly photos and videos that show the protests are definitely not only about economic woes.
People of Mashhad shout "No Gaza, No Lebanon, our lives are devoted to Iran" protesting Iran's Islamic regime for financially supporting terrorist groups such as #Hezbollah and #Hamas pic.twitter.com/Ed7YaqBwxK— Babak Taghvaee (@BabakTaghvaee) December 28, 2017
Mass protests in Iran: citizens are sick & tired of Ayatollahs spending their money to commit genocide in Syria, funding Hezbollah, terror across mideast.— Hillel Neuer (@HillelNeuer) December 30, 2017
Video of Iranian protesters: "Leave Syria; think of us instead."
Other chant: "Not Gaza, not Lebanon; my life for Iran." https://t.co/KFZ8JP61hh